In a new book on leadership, author Jack Stahl offers up his framework for being an effective leader. Mr. Stahl began his career at Arthur Andersen. In 1979, he joined The Coco-Cola Company, eventually becoming at age thirty-six, the company’s chief financial officer. Then, after successfully leading the company’s businesses in North America and Latin America, he served as president of The Coca-Cola Company, before leaving in 2001. Stahl became president and CEO of Revlon in 2002 and led the company through a five-year period during which its market share, profitability, and balance sheet were strengthened. He left Revlon in 2006. I wanted to find out how his new book can help people develop and grow. Lessons on Leadership: The 7 Fundamental Management Skills for Leaders At All Levels is written in plain and economical language. Everything has utility in this book, which means you won’t waste any time searching for something that you need to know . . . now. He simplifies the complexities of running a business by sharing seven frameworks that cover many of the situations that leaders confront in building world-class organizations.
But don’t worry; none of it reads like a business textbook. His advice is based on his own experiences in the corporate world, as well as t he lessons he learned directly from leaders such as the late Coca-Cola Company CEO Roberto Goizueta. Stahl says, “These mentors were masters at managing situationally as well as strategically and their real-world lessons, many of which I share in these frameworks, expanded upon my training in economics and finance. Here’s part three of a Q&A with Mr. Stahl:
When it comes to strengthening a brand how important is it for everyone in a company to be on board? Why?
The essence of great marketing requires that you define and relentlessly communicate the key features of your brand. This means that every marketing and virtually all possible business actions possible, be seen as opportunities to communicate to consumers those unique attributes of your brand. Everyone in your organization has opportunities to do this whether they are sales people when interacting with retail customers, marketing people as they build promotional materials, or administrative staff functions as they observe how the products of their company are merchandised in the marketplace. This requires a strong internal communications effort focused on explaining what your brands mean to consumers and the importance of linking all external communication to the features of your brands.
How can you convince a leader that it’s important to know about what motivates his or her people? You say that it’s important to gain a “clear understanding of their beliefs, goals, and motivations…” Why and how?
Most leaders understand the importance of successfully influencing their organizations. The opportunity is to show them how much more effective they can be if they start with a clear understanding of their audience and where they stand today on an issue before developing their message content. By knowing where your audience is today, their goals, concerns, and challenges, and what you what want your audience to think, say, or do, at the end of your communication, you can then shape the content of your message to move them to your communications destination. I lay out in Lessons on Leadership an approach for how to do this effectively based on a model developed by Speakeasy LLC, a communications consulting and training firm based in Atlanta, Georgia.